Mug Shots Of People In Jail – The Process

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Taking Inmate Pictures

Did you ever wonder how they take mug shots of people in jail?  I’m not really talking about celebrity criminal pictures or funny inmate photos as much as the process that the average person goes through during the booking process.  While the steps may vary a little by agency, the basic way to take mug shots of people in jail is essentially the same.  Let’s look at the process everyone has to go through, even if they are a celebrity or rich and famous.

Before Snapping Pictures

Generally speaking, much of the booking process will be complete before they prison guard ever snaps an inmate picture.  Pat downs and searches will be done and personal information will be collected before the camera is even ready.  Before taking mug shots of people in jail, the camera system must also be ready to go.  There will typically be a placard with the date and inmate number showing.  Some prisons will have the inmate hold the placard and some will have it hand like a necklace.  It really depends on each prison’s setup for taking mug shots of people in jail.

Side Profile

In general, the first inmate picture will be of the side profile, normally with the inmate’s left side nearest the camera.    The prisoner will normally be standing in front of a height strip, so you can clearly tell how tall the inmate is.  Some will even make the prisoner remove their shoes for a more accurate photo when taking mug shots of people in jail.  In addition, so agencies will take pictures of both side profiles.

Forward Facing

Next up is the forward facing picture, or front profile.  These mug shots of people in jail are generally done against a height strip, just as the side profiles are.  In addition, you’ll generally see the inmate up against a white or gray background.  The placard will be facing forward, generally just below the neckline.  Consistency is important with mug shots of people in jail.

After Snapping the Picture

The mug shots of people in jail will need to be downloaded and placed into whatever booking systems the agency uses.  This could mean copying and pasting the photos of prisoners in several places.  In addition, at some point, the FBI will need to be sent copies of the inmate pictures electronically.  In some agencies the transmission is done automatically, while others do bulk downloads on a regular basis, perhaps weekly or monthly.

A hard copy of the mug shots of people in jail is normally kept in the inmate booking folder or file.  This serves as a backup in case the electronic versions are lost or there are some forms of unforeseen errors.  Backups must be kept on file for several years.

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